If you're trying to break into private equity or are already in the ranks, it pays to read some of the foundational texts about the sector.
We spoke to private-equity professionals at various levels to get their recommendations on what books everyone should read.
1. King of Capital: The Remarkable Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone by David Carey and John E. Morris
By David Carey and John E. Morris
David Carey, a senior writer at The Deal, and John Morris, an editor with Dow Jones Investment Banker, pull back the curtain on Steven Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone. A figure notorious for his lavish lifestyle and gigantic fortune (just Google his 2007 birthday party), Schwarzman is the focus of this 2010 book published by Crown Business. The authors sketch out in detail the firm's evolution from its earliest days and how Schwarzman got to be a master of the universe.
Key takeaway: You have to dream big to make it.
Related: Carey and Morris on Schwarzman and Blackstone
2. Vault Career Guide to Private Equity
By Mike Martinez
You'll need to have a blend of technical qualifications and the right character to get a job at a private-equity firm -- and each firm has its own particular idea of what this means. This 2008 guide published by Vault will help you prep for interviews and give you an overview what you'll need to do to impress potential employers. The book provides sample resumes, examples of "days in the life," and private equity career paths.
Key takeaway: An aerial view of the private equity industry and what you need to do to get break in.
3. Venture Capital and Private Equity: A Casebook
By Josh Lerner, Felda Hardymon and Ann Leamon
This technical handbook, which was first published in 2000 by Wiley and is now in its fourth edition, offers real-life international cases of deals and the types of funds that do them. Based on a popular course taught by Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner, the book explores successful returns on investments, raising and structuring of private equity funds, different valuation approaches and successful exit strategies. Beware: the book is monstrous, but the case study format makes it easier to digest.
Key takeaway: A primer on how on the private equity market works.
4. Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies
By McKinsey & Company Inc.
First published in 1990 and now in its third edition, this book by three current and former McKinsey partners is predicated on the assumption that understanding valuation is the key to success in private equity. The book provides frameworks for forecasting company performance and maximizing value for shareholders. Having been continually updated over the past 20 years, the book provides guidance to valuation methods and techniques, something you'll need if you're going to succeed in private equity.
Key takeaway: Knowing the ins and outs of companies' businesses is essential in this field.
5. Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco
By Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
This 1989 classic centers on the 1988 leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and is based on a series of articles by two Wall Street Journal reporters who covered the intricate dealmaking processes undertaken by Henry Kravis, George R. Roberts and RJR Nabisco chairman F. Ross Johnson. The book was later turned into an HBO movie and is "required reading" for those who want to know more about the field, according to one industry insider.
Key Takeaway: Studying the most epic business battles will help you get a sense of what you're getting into.
Write to Julie Steinberg